The weekend of 6-8 March 2009 is something of a turning-point in history.
Two teams played. There was one victor, but two losers.
After a hard-fought and generally very evenly matched contest on the tennis court, Israel won the series 3-2. But it really could have gone either way, both teams put up a magnificent fight.
Israel emerged the victor.
Inauguration of the 2009 Davis Cup tennis tournament in an empty arena.
But there were two losers. Firstly, the Swedish Davis Cup team, despite a great showing and spirited playing.
And secondly, what is quickly emerging as the fading democracy of Sweden – the even bigger loser.
Mayor Reepalu appeared determined to set Sweden’s foreign policy in Malmö. The Swedish government in the country’s capital city, Stockholm, appeared to be completely sidelined by the brazen takeover of the nation’s foreign policy agenda.
At Malmö Town Hall the city council decided to make a very public issue of out its political stance, with radical left-wing parties winning the vote 5-4 to ban spectators from the venue as a means of persuading the Israeli team to abandon its plans to play at all.
The Israeli team turned up nonetheless. And won.
Sweden lost. It lost its chances of advancing in the Davis Cup tournament.
Sweden also lost its reputation as a democracy – like the Palestinians who seem uncertain as to whether their government is in Gaza City or Ramallah, Swedes no longer know whether their government’s foreign policy is set in Stockholm or Malmö.
And Sweden lost financially: with spectators banned by a city mayor keener to play foreign-policy demagogue than local civic leader, Malmö lost revenue from ticket sales, hotel and restaurant turnover, bus and taxi earnings.
And then had to foot the bill for mounting a multi-million kronor security operation the likes of which had never been seen in this country. One thousand police officers drafted in to maintain law and order, upwards of one hundred police vehicles involved.
Police cordon around a pair of wrecked police vehicles
Rioters on the rampage in Malmö
The rioters were first warmed up with firebrand speeches by the likes of Swedish Socialist (nee Communist) MP Lars Ohly sporting a keffiyeh showing a map WITHOUT the state of Israel and talking about the Jewish nation’s “crimes against humanity”. He was referring to Israel’s 21-day response after suffering an onslaught of 10,000 missiles from Gaza. The results were predictable. Violent riots, attempts to set police vehicles alight – with the officers sitting inside them – the use of granite paving-stones to try and smash the police vehicles and their occupants. The financial cost is going to suck the city of Malmö dry for years to come.
Swedish Socialist (nee Communist) MP Lars Ohly draped in a keffiyeh warming up the crowd prior to the riots
A clearer view of the Swedish MP’s keffiyah showing the non-existence of Israel
Malmö city mayor Ilmar Reepalu seems unaware of the worldwide recession. From somewhere in his already depleted coffers he is now going to have to foot the bill for the repairs – after first losing out on the revenue from a tennis tournament which went ahead anyway despite his sabotage attempts.
And to round it all off, Malmö has now ended up on the international list of pariahs – a city in which no self-respecting organisation is ever going to hold a major event for risk of running aground on the whims of its mayor’s agenda of the day.
So many achievements in a few short days for the Mayor Who Would Be King.
Articles in English on the subject:
Wiesenthal, WSJ, Newsmill, JPost, JPost,